Can You Bring Unopened Wine on a Plane? How-to Guide

Greek Island Bucket List is an Amazon Associate and participant in other affiliate programmes. I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

If you’re a wine lover and expecting to discover some amazing wines on your travels then you might be wondering if you can bring wine on your plane ride back home.

Hurrah You Can Bring Sealed Wine on the Plane

Well, good news. The short answer is yes, you can bring unopened wine on a plane. You can have wine bottles in both your checked luggage and your carry-on luggage. I’ll give you a bit more information about that here as well as how best to bring wine home in your suitcase.

How Much Wine Can You Fly With?

Firstly, let’s look at how much wine you can actually bring. Obviously, this amount varies by country and airline so you’ll need to check for the most up-to-date information when you travel.

And make sure you do that so you stick to the duty-free rules. You don’t want to end up with hefty fines or import tax/duty for bringing alcohol over your allowances.

In the meantime, here are some examples from the United States, United Kingdom and European Union. I’ve linked to the sites where you can check for yourself when you travel.

(Oh and to be clear, this is for wine in unopened retail packaging that’s for your own personal use or to give as a present, only.)

USA Travel Allowance for Wine

For the USA, you can check with the T.S.A (Transportation Security Administration) on their policy for bringing wine into the country. They’re pretty lenient and anything with 24% or less alcohol content has no limits on quantity in your checked baggage.

I believe this is the same for international flights AND domestic flights. However, you will still need to stay within the checked bag /luggage weight limit and the bag quantity allowance of your airline.

In terms of hand luggage, normal wine bottles won’t fit in the quart sized bag allowance. (Although you can bring other mini bottles of alcoholic beverages, see the guidance in the link above.)

Allowance for Bringing Wine on a Flight into the UK

You can use the website to check the duty-free rules for flying with wine into the UK. As it stands just now, you can bring the following amount of wine if you’re the legal drinking age:

  • 18 litres of still wine, plus
  • 9 litres of sparkling wine or fortified wine like sherry and port

Note that if you’re bringing wine in the sparkling/fortified category it’s affected by other alcohol you’re carrying. For example, if you’re bringing spirits with an alcohol content of over 22 percent alcohol you’ll need to split the allowance with any non-still wine you have.

So if you’re bringing a variety of drinks, check how much alcohol you can bring at a time. If you go over your limits you need to declare it and be ready to pay.

How Much Wine Can I Fly With in Europe?

How much wine you can bring into EU countries varies from country to country.

Flying With Wine from One EU Country to Another

As it stands, the allowance for the amount of wine you can bring is not less than 90 litres per person (with no more than 60 litres of that being sparkling.)

You can also bring a minimum of 20 litres of fortified wine (e.g port or sherry).

To check the exact details for the EU country you’re travelling to you can find each country’s customs website here.

Flying With Wine into an EU Country from a Non-EU Country

Again, double-check the information for the country you’re travelling to. But as a guide, you can bring 4 litres of still wine and 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

Like the UK, the amount of wine in the second category is affected by any other alcoholic beverage that you’re carrying with a high alcoholic percentage. So if you want to split the allowance with other types of alcohol, make sure you work it all out correctly.

Can I take a sealed bottle of wine in hand luggage?

Realistically, the only way of flying with wine in your carry-on is to buy it in the airport Duty-Free shop. Picking it up at the duty-free store and carrying your wine onboard means you bypass the normal carry-on liquids allowance.

Leave your purchases in the plastic shopping bag from the store though. You can squash it all into your hand luggage if you’ve space. And you can also carry the duty-free shop bag in addition to your cabin luggage allowance if there’s no space left.

The rules around liquids do seem to be changing though so hopefully we won’t have to worry too much in the future.

Connecting Flights

Do remember to check the situation if you’re on an international flight with a connecting flight along the way. You don’t want the next airport security to make you dump what you just bought.

Downside to Using Duty-Free Shops

One of the drawbacks of waiting to get Duty-Free wine is not knowing exactly which alcoholic beverages will be available at the airport.

So, if you want particular bottles from a wine tasting during your trip, read on to find the best way to pack wine that you buy.

Packing Wine Bottles for Travel – Checked Bags

Ok so I’m going to tell you the best way of packing wine and it’s going to be a case of do as I say, not as I do.

The Non-Fancy Way That I’m Not Supposed to Recommend

Apparently, you’re not supposed to transport wine how I’ve always done it. Oops. Still, it’s always worked out fine for me.

I am partial to a bit of the old Kocabağ K Emir that I discovered at the lovely Pumpkin Restaurant in Cappadocia. When I’ve brought that or anything else back I’ve just wrapped bottles in something thick like a towel or a jumper.

Luckily after my tasting in Naxos, I just had to get this bottle back to Paros on the ferry

I don’t use hard-sided suitcases because I dislike them almost as much as those god-awful 4-wheel spinning cases. (Do not get me started…!) And my wine has always been fine in my soft-sided, checked luggage.

But I’ve always made sure I pack wine in the middle of my suitcase with plenty of padding above and below so the bottle is cushioned.

Unopened Wine In Hard-Sided Cases

Despite how I’ve managed before, the official advice is that you use hard-shelled luggage. It makes sense that a glass wine bottle (or 6) will be more protected so I concede that’s a good point.

Especially since I’ve seen some of those videos of baggage handlers doing the rounds on social media.

In Individual Bottle Travel Bags

You can also put your wine in a proper wine travel bag to protect it regardless of suitcase type. I found these Wine Skins in Greece. You can get similar things for air travel elsewhere, too. These are basically bubble wrap within what becomes a sealed bag.

Bubble wrap plastic Wineskins wine bottle travel protectors

I don’t think it’s any more padded than my amateur method. But I will admit it’s probably a good idea to contain your wine bottles. I don’t suppose a broken bottle of red wine in your checked baggage is the best thing to discover upon landing.

It’s never happened to me, but I did just hear that leakage can be an issue too. Something to do with the pressure on the plane can alter the fit of the cork and even screwtop bottles.

So maybe it would be sensible to put your wine in a couple of plastic bags if you don’t have a proper wine travel bag.

By the way, this post isn’t sponsored by Wineskins, it’s just what I found here in Athens. And they are handy. The only thing I don’t love about taking wine in these is that the plastic is single-use.

I did see there’s a store on Amazon that sells reusable wine bottle protectors. So check what’s available in your country/area.

One bottle of most wines (750 ml bottle of wine and even larger) will fit into these packs

Using Dedicated Wine Suitcases

Since the wine allowances during travel can be quite generous, you might want to take full advantage.

In which case, consider using your carry-on luggage for your clothes etc., and use the entirety of your checked baggage allowance to bring bottles of wine back.

If you’re a serious connoisseur then know that you can get special bottle suitcases. Literally a dedicated wine suitcase. I have to be honest, the concept blew my mind when I first heard about it. But I think it’s the safest way to protect your wine bottles.

I don’t have any photos of these but a quick Google search for wine suitcases will show you what’s available.

Glass bottles fare better with hard suitcases…who knew?

The company Fly With Wine has suitcases that are normal on one side and set up for wine bottles on the other. They’re padded and can take up to 12 bottles. Other companies have dedicated cases with wheels and temperature control. So choose your level of sophistication.

FAQs About Flying with Unopened Wine on a Plane

How many bottles of wine can I bring into the US?

For wine under 24% alcohol, there’s no limit. (Although huge amounts may arouse suspicion.)

Do alcohol bottles break in luggage?

They can if you don’t wrap them carefully. Either wrap them well in thick items like jumpers, fleeces or towels or use a bottle bag. (See above).

How many bottles of wine can I carry on a plane?

Check the allowances above for examples for various countries. It’s normally about the total volume in litres than the number of bottles.

How do you transport a bottle of wine on a plane?

If you’re not buying duty-free wine you’ll need to pack wine in your checked luggage. You can use clothing, special travel bottle cases or dedicated wine suitcases to transport wine.

What Is The Safest Way To Fly With Wine In Checked Luggage?

The safest way is to use a special suitcase that’s designed for flying with wine. You can get tough cases with wheels that make transportation easy.

Need Wine Tasting Suggestions?

Now you know how to bring wine home, you just need the wine! And there are plenty of new wines out there for you to discover.

If you’re heading to Turkey then wine tasting is one of the ways to spend an evening in Istanbul. Here in Greece, one of the best things to do in Naxos is a wine tasting at Saint Anna’s Winery.

And you’re spoilt for choice in terms of Santorini wineries. Join a wine tour or just take your pick and have a private tasting. Mmm, that’s making me fancy a cheeky glass of Vinstanto.

Well, wherever you choose to get your wine from, enjoy it. Bottoms up!

Can You Bring Unopened Wine on a Plane? How-to Guide

Suzie Young

Suzie writes informative posts for solo, nervous or first-time travellers to Greece, Turkey and other countries on her 50-before-50 bucket list. She became a Greek resident in 2020 and intends to visit every inhabited island (13 down!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.